What Are ‘Troublesome’ Variants BQ.1 and BQ.1.1?

A new generation of “problematic” COVID variations is on the rise, according to experts. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 now account for more than 11% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. Last week, these variants weren’t even deemed noteworthy enough to be on the list.

According to Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, both BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 exhibit “qualities or features that potentially elude some of the therapies we have.” When you find variants like that, you look at their rate of rise as a proportion of the variants, and this has a really problematic doubling time, he explained. In essence, COVID-19 variations like XBB and BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 are spreading quickly.

What are BQ.1 and BQ.1.1?

According to Thomas Russo, M.D., professor and chief of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo in New York, BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 are part of a new wave of COVID-19 variants that are spreading across the nation and the world. He claims, “This is the next wave.” “BQ.1, BQ1.1, and these other novel variations have all evolved in distinct environments, but to some extent, they contain similar spike proteins that make them at least as contagious as the original variants they were generated from,” the researchers write.

According to Dr. Russo, BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 are subvariants of the Omicron variant BA.5, which accounts for around 68% of COVID-19 cases nationwide at the moment. He refers to them as “first cousins,” pointing out how similar they are.

This variation’s growth is rapid once more. They were formerly packed in CDC data under BA.5, but after cases continued to grow quickly, they were eventually granted their own space on the CDC’s “Nowcast” COVID-19 data tracker.

According to Dr. Russo, BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 are particularly worrisome since they are emerging in an environment where people have “growing immunity” to vaccinations and infectious diseases. “If you’re a variant, or if you’re a variant that can evade that, you’re then going to be able to spread and gain a larger share of infections,” he claims.

BQ.1.1 was singled out by Dr. Fauci due to worries that it might avoid being protected by Evusheld, an antibody medication used to help reduce the risk of serious illness in people with compromised immune systems.

He said, “It seems to elude key monoclonal antibodies.”

Symptoms of BQ.1 and BQ.1.1

As of right now, according to William Schaffner, M.D., an infectious disease expert and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 do not appear to have symptoms that set them apart from earlier COVID-19 variants. Despite the fact that it is still early, he says, “so far, they don’t seem to produce more severe disease.” Nothing about their symptoms would indicate that you have one variant over another, according to the author.

According to the CDC, these are the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 variants BQ.1, BQ.1.1, and others:

  • reath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

According to Dr. Russo, COVID may be the cause of symptoms like a runny nose and what appears to be a sore throat. It’s critical to understand the warning signs.

Are both BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 protected by the bivalent booster?

It is unknown how well BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 will avoid the new bivalent booster, despite the fact that they may be immune to natural infections and vaccines. Dr. Russo notes that “we don’t have any data yet.” “At the moment, we think this booster does provide substantial protection against severe disease with these variants,” says Dr. Schaffner.

Overall, according to Dr. Russo, those who receive the booster and contract BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 “should be pretty good at preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death.”

If they experience COVID-19 symptoms, Dr. Russo advises individuals to test themselves and actually isolate if the results are positive. People are acting like ostriches and in denial about COVID, he claims. But it’s still very much there.

ALso Read ABout Why You Can’t Just Get the Omicron Booster